Computer Rebate Offers

Dear New Yorker:

As the Internet is becoming an integral part of individual lives, personal computers are more likely to be considered a necessity rather than a luxury.

Some Internet Service Providers (those companies that connect personal computers with the Internet), recently have begun offering "free" computers if you sign up for their services.

The promise of a free computer has drawn many consumers into contracts that are not necessarily a great deal. Oftentimes, these offers are tied to very long term commitments. In other words, a consumer might have to agree to a three-year commitment to pay for Internet services from this company in order to accept the "free" PC.

Although three years may not seem that long, the nature of Internet services is changing so rapidly that three years from now, this type of modem-based service may be obsolete.

Unfortunately, you could get stuck with a costly contract which provides services you no longer want!

If you aren't comfortable with the terms of the agreement or if you don't feel you completely understand, reconsider signing it. If you are having difficulty getting the refund check sent to you, contact our office at (800) 771-7755 or visit our website at

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Computers that are advertised as "free," or deeply discounted, typically require that you commit to a long-term contract for Internet service -- as long as three years. Some deals even require that you pre-pay for the entire amount in advance rather than in monthly installments, which can be as much as $800.

Speed is relative. Technology is changing quite rapidly and you may find yourself tied to an agreement for Internet service that is slower or more expensive than would otherwise be available to you.

Make sure your access number is a local call. Before signing a contract or paying up-front, confirm that the dial-up number used to connect to the Internet is a local phone call for you. If not, you could incur per-minute telephone charges while you are online, which can add up quickly.

Watch for cancellation fees. If you discover later that the particular Internet service bundled with this "free" computer does not provide a local access number or you decide that the service is otherwise unsatisfactory, you may have to pay a cancellation fee or forfeit your rebate to end the contract early.

Consider other costs associated with the "free computer" offer, namely accessories, like monitors, printers, and extended warranties that you'll have to purchase separately.

Keep copies of all forms and receipts from your "rebate" when you mail it in.

Note the date that you mailed in your rebate information. Watch the calendar closely. If you don't hear from the merchant on time, notify them immediately. If you get no satisfaction from them, call the Attorney General's Office.